by Cliff Rold
This wasn’t the one.
The night will come where Manny Pacquiao doesn’t have enough left in the tank for a guy like Adrien Broner. We aren’t there yet. It says a lot about the professionalism and desire of Pacquiao that he has managed to stay in the kind of shape he needs to keep going at this level. He’s not remotely what he was a decade ago and yet what remains is still too much for guys just outside the elite level of the sport.
When a fighter is one of the best to ever do it, 70% of their best is still a big gap for most of the boxing world to cover. On a night where Pacquiao started out looking old, reaching, lunging, and missing, Pacquiao settled down, went to the body, and started to find Adrien Broner upstairs.
Pacquiao has never been quite the destroyer at welterweight he was in lower classes. He’s only got one knockout since 2009. Yet he still manages to hurt or drop just about everyone at least once. He even rocked Mayweather a couple times in a lopsided loss. Broner was in trouble twice as Pacquiao dominated him as much with ring savvy as physical tools.
Take the Jeff Horn fight out of Australia and Pacquiao arguably hasn’t lost since the Mayweather fight, a five fight run that included wins over consensus top ten contenders Timothy Bradley and Jessie Vargas before Broner on Saturday. There will be more chances at contenders soon. Will there be a rematch with Mayweather?
Let’s get into it.
The Future for Pacquiao: Pacquiao just won what could have been as many as ten rounds against a capable professional at welterweight. He won by the exact same scores Mikey Garcia did against Broner last year and was arguably more dominant down the stretch. Could he compete the same way with the perceived top two welterweight talents, Errol Spence and Terence Crawford? We might eventually find out if the former gets by Mikey Garcia.
The latter is probably a moot point. Crawford didn’t happen when both were with Top Rank and Pacquiao has a lot more options at welterweight being with the PBC. Among those options are Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman (the rightful WBA titlist no matter Pacquiao’s sub-title from the organization), and Danny Garcia. It says here Spence is too young, too big, and too good in 2019 for Pacquiao; the rest of the PBC crew might not be. Fights with any of those three would be compelling theatre.
Then there is the biggest money option; will Mayweather make the rematch? His handlers say no and Mayweather remained mum when given the chance to say the same. All this speculation got started last year with a video snippet that seemed to show the two agreeing to fight again. It doesn’t mean the rematch is coming but it would be no surprise.
The Future for Broner: At some point, the thrill is gone. A big part of Broner’s marketability is a part of the fan base that wants to see him lose. They’ve now seen it four times and the losses aren’t getting better. On Saturday, Broner could be seen looking at the clock after he was hurt both times and at other times late in the fight.
Perhaps Broner really did think he was winning the fight; his corner wasn’t helping in that regard, unwilling to tell him he needed a knockout to win. One can also make the case that, after a brief flurry of rebound offense in the eighth after being hurt the round before, Broner basically stopped trying. He threw some token hard shots but never bit down and risked anything to try to win. On a night where Broner needed a win as bad as he ever has, he was happy to have good choreography on the way to the ring and some face saving outbursts afterwards.
The evidence is clear. Broner is a guy at about the level of Vargas and Adrian Granados, and no higher. He is a marvel of good management, carefully moved towards lots of belts without having to face the best in most of those divisions to win them. The most notable legacy he’ll leave behind is a debate about whether he or Leo Gamez is the biggest argument against the merits of winning titles in four divisions.
He may yet talk himself into another big fight or two but it’s more likely he’s heading towards gatekeeper status, the sort of name test you put someone who might live up to the hype in against on their way to better things.
Rold Picks 2019: 3-1 (Including Oubaali-Warren, Browne-Jack)
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]